Kathleen Gilbert

Surgeon: birth control pill a ‘molotov cocktail’ for breast cancer

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 6, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - How often do doctors in America prescribe a Group One carcinogen - one recognized as a “definite” cause of cancer - to otherwise healthy patients?

Answer: as often as they prescribe the hormonal birth control pill.

This little-known fact about the pill was presented by Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, a breast surgical oncologist and co-founder of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, who shared her expertise on the drug at the “50 Years of the Pill” conference in Washington, DC on Friday.

“When is it ever right to give a group one carcinogen to a healthy woman?” she asked the audience. “We don’t have to take a group one carcinogen to be liberated.”

Lanfranchi offered a wealth of statistical data from various sources to support a fact that is known by the medical community to be true yet is rarely acknowledged: use of the pill has been strongly linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. The pill is also believed to increase the risk of cervical cancer and liver cancer.

“This stuff is not new, it’s not magic, it’s in the literature,” she said, linking pill use to the 660 percent rise in non-invasive breast cancer since 1973. “Women want to know, and women have a right to know, what researchers have known for over 20 years.”

She compared media treatment of the pill’s cancer risk to that of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which was found to be carcinogenic in 2002. Once word got out, 15 out of 30 million women in America taking HRT stopped; by 2007, invasive breast cancer in women over 50 for estrogen-receptive positive tumors dropped 11 percent.

Meanwhile, she noted, hormonal contraception - essentially the same drug as HRT and with a similar cancer risk, about 25-30 percent - continues to be touted as harmless and even healthy. And yet, the International Agency on Research of Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, classified hormonal contraceptives in 2005 as a group one carcinogen along with asbestos and radium.

Unlike the HRT discovery, “I don’t remember one six o’clock news report about that information,” said Lanfranchi.

While even medical textbooks attest to the 30 percent increase in cancer risk, Lanfranchi noted a pervasively dismissive attitude: one British medical textbook she cited said that, “Considering the benefits of the pill, this slight increased risk is not considered clinically significant.”

Not clinically significant? “To whom?” Lanfranchi asked, showing a sobering photograph of one of her own cancer patients, Suellen Bennett. While breast cancer caused by the pill is often caught early, she said, the pill’s “benefits” are hardly a reason not to mention its dangers.

“This is what you have to go through when you’re cured. You lose your hair, you lose your breast,” she said. Had Suellen been told of the risk, Lanfranchi said, “she would very well have been one of those women who would have chosen not to take the pill.”

The surgeon explained that the extra estrogen received by taking the pill not only encourages excessive multiplication of breast tissue - usually a normal occurrence in the menstruation cycle - but, when metabolized, can also directly damage breast tissue DNA.

Because breast tissue remains susceptible to cancer until it undergoes a stabilizing transformation in the childbearing process, said Lanfranchi, the pill is particularly dangerous to women who have not yet had their first child: perhaps the most popular demographic among pill users in the U.S.

To show just how much of a threat the pill posed to young women, Lanfranchi pointed to several statistics, including a 2006 Mayo Clinic meta-analysis that concluded that breast cancer risk rises 50 percent for women taking oral contraceptives four or more years before a full-term pregnancy. In 2009, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that women starting the pill before 18 nearly quadruple their risk of triple negative breast cancer. Even more shocking, Swedish oncologist Hakan Olsson concluded that pill use before the age of 20 increases a young woman’s breast cancer risk by more than 1000 percent.

“It’s like you took this molotov cocktail of a group one carcinogen and threw it into that young girl’s breast,” said Lanfranchi. “Is this child abuse?”

In a world where 50 percent of teenagers are on the pill, Lanfranchi lamented that publicly controverting the deep social dependence on the pill has become nearly impossible - even though the message would save countless women’s lives. She sympathized with doctors who would find the information hard to swallow.

“It’s hard to talk about this because you’re changing a culture ... I want to think that I did good, that I helped my patients, that I did better because of what I did,” she said. “25 years down in my career, when I hear that I’ve been handing out a group one carcinogen for the last 25 years, I’m going to be resistant to that.”

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

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By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website, www.babycaust.de, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon / Shutterstock.com
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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

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By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” Katholisch.de editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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